SND35: What’s New in Graphics and Illustrations

A brief series in the runup to the Best of News Design’s print deadlines continues today with the topic squarely centered on SND35’s Call for Entries.

In the wake of SND34, Dr. Mario Garcia hosted a rather vibrant discussion on the plight of infographics and illustrations in the Best of News Design print competition. The peg for the discussion was the dropoff in graphics winners in recent years, specifically in the most recent competition.

Before this discussion began, and with efforts stepped up in the wake of Dr. Garcia’s discussion, SND’s competition committee spent several months bringing both the Illustrations and Graphics categories up to what we believe is a higher standard for fairness than ever before. I should clearly state here — and will repeat below — that the goal was not to increase the number of winners. Rather, it was to maximize fairness to all entries and to those judging them, with a logical consequence being that every entry rising to the level of excellence be awarded as such.

You can find the SND35 Call for Entries here. A breakdown of each of the category changes is below.

Illustrations (Category 13)

What’s new this year: The categories are broken down by topic. For the first time, you may enter either color or black and white illustrations in categories specifically for News (and Business), Sports, Opinion, Lifestyle (and Travel/Food/Fashion), Arts and Entertainment, and Portrait/Caricature. The long-standing Spot Illustration category is still there as well.

Previously, this category was broken down only by lead or spot, and color or black-and-white.

Reasons for the changes: First, the catchall nature of the categories has historically made illustration categories some of the largest in the competition, with entries far exceeding 100 in multiple categories. It’s asking a lot for a group of judges to both: clear the tables in a timely manner, and be tough but fair in their judging. By removing the catchall nature, the judges will be able to compare similar-content-to-similar-content and more easily assess what is and is not rising to the level of excellence.

Second, it’s equally fair to those entering the category to know that, for example, a sports illustration will not be judged alongside an entertainment illustration. The goal in making these changes was not to increase the number of winners. Rather, it was to provide assurances to both those entering and judging the competition that entries will have their best chances to be judged against similar work across the industry. We hope only that the results at SND35 reflect the highest levels of fairness across the board as a result.

Graphics (Categories 16/Single and 17/Multiple)

What’s new this year: The single categories are broken down by specific topic. You can enter deadline or non-deadline graphics separately in Local, Nation/World, Sports, Business, Features and Other. Previously, the single categories were broken down only into Deadline, Non-Deadline and Features.

The multiple categories were adjusted to take the number of portfolio categories down from six to two. This was done entirely out of recognition that the industry reality is that of smaller graphics staffs than a decade ago, where the norm is that departments routinely work on breaking, non-breaking, news, features and business graphics over the course of the year, and the portfolio categories now allow an individual’s and a staff’s best work to be entered together.

Reasons for the changes to single Graphics categories: For the same reason as Illustrations. For years, these categories have allowed work from unrelated topics to be judged alongside one another. And like in Illustrations, the competition committee did not set out with a stated goal of increasing winners. Rather, our aim was once again to ensure both judges and those entering that work will be put in a position where it can be judged most accurately against its industry peers. The natural consequence of this is that entries rising to the level of excellence in both areas of expertise stand their best chance of succeeding.

This is the second of four parts on the Best of News Design Print Competition that will run before the International Entry Deadline.

Part 1: This is Why It Matters

Part 2: The Competition’s Infographics Equation

Part 3: Where Are They Now? A Decade’s Worth of Medalists

Part 4: Entering Without Designing to Enter

About Josh Crutchmer

is design and graphics editor at The Plain Dealer.

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